The driver of a hire van that crushed a Deliveroo cyclist on Queens Road in Bristol on Wednesday had suffered ‘an unforeseeable medical episode’ according to police. A number of people helped the cyclist in the moments before the emergency services arrived, pushing the van off his neck to allow him to breathe.
The Bristol Post (link is external) reports that a bystander jumped into the moving van and fought with the driver to pull his feet from the pedals because he had run over a Deliveroo cyclist and was dragging him down the road.
Jonny Lennon said: “There were people at the crossing there, and the Deliveroo cyclist was there too. Then in my periphery I saw this van coming down the road and I thought ‘he’s not going to stop.’
“He didn’t and took the cyclist out head-on. How he didn’t see him, I don’t know – he must have done. The cyclist was standing up on his pedals with a bright Deliveroo backpack on and he was knocked down by the van, and the bike and him went under the van.”
Lennon had been at London Bridge when terrorists used a van to mow down pedestrians and at first thought something similar was happening.
Immediately after the initial collision, he ran alongside the van, on the passenger side, screaming.
“While I was running, the front wheels went over the kid and the bike – he still didn’t stop. I grabbed the side door screaming at him to stop. I jumped into the passenger seat and then he looked at me.
“I thought ‘he’s going to crash’. I can see all these people ahead, so I held the steering wheel straight to keep the van on the road.
“He started hitting me, back-handing me. I started to look for the keys, I couldn’t see where the handbrake was. I looked down at his feet and I put my head down, let go of the steering wheel and dived between his knees.
“I pulled his feet back off the pedals. He was on the clutch and the accelerator and I got his feet off and reached back and flicked the gear stick out of gear.”
Lennon then found the handbrake and pulled it on to bring the vehicle to a stop.
After checking on the cyclist, he said the driver was still sitting in the vehicle with other passers-by trying to get him out.
“I thought ‘shit, if he tries to escape and drive off, he’ll kill the kid’. At this point, then the driver got out. But I said we need to push the van back.
“I said to everybody, ‘it’s just one foot back, let’s go’. I gave the nod to this guy who got in the van ready to drop the handbrake, and then we did it, we moved it back just a foot.”
Police initially detained the driver, but he was not arrested.
“He was in the back of the police car and when I went over to give my details to the police, he jumped out and started screaming at me,” said Lennon. “It was surreal.”
A spokesperson from Avon and Somerset Police said: “We’d like to thank members of the public who assisted an injured cyclist following a collision in Clifton.
“Yesterday (August 29) at about 2.10pm in Queens Road, the driver of a van suffered an unforeseeable medical episode which resulted in the van colliding with a male cyclist.
“The driver has since been treated at hospital for this. He has voluntarily surrendered his driving licence while enquiries are ongoing.
“A number of people helped the cyclist in the moments before the emergency services arrived. The man was taken to hospital with serious injuries, however, they were not believed to be life-threatening.”